Celeste Ng is the bestselling author of three novels: Everything I Never Told You, Little Fires Everywhere, and her latest work, Our Missing Hearts. In 2020, Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere was adapted into a popular limited series on Hulu, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. Following its nationwide success, Ng’s latest work, Our Missing Hearts, explores the ways that supposedly civilized communities can pretend to ignore the most searing injustice.
In Our Missing Hearts, twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving but broken father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. For a decade, their lives have been governed by laws written to preserve “American culture” in the wake of years of economic instability and violence.
To keep the peace and restore prosperity, the authorities are now allowed to relocate children of dissidents, especially those of Asian origin, and libraries have been forced to remove books seen as unpatriotic—including the work of Bird’s mother, Margaret, a Chinese American poet who left the family when he was nine years old. Our Missing Hearts is an old story made new. It’s a tale about power and limitations, of art to create change, the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children, and how any of us can survive a broken world with our hearts intact.
Celeste Ng is the author of three novels: Everything I Never Told You, Little Fires Everywhere, and Our Missing Hearts. Ng’s first novel, Everything I Never Told You (2014), was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications. Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the ALA’s Alex Award. It has been translated into over thirty languages and is being adapted for the screen.
Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere (2017) was a #1 New York Times bestseller, a #1 Indie Next bestseller, and Amazon’s Best Fiction Book of 2017. It was named a best book of the year by over 25 publications, the winner of the Ohioana Award and the Goodreads Readers Choice Award 2017 in Fiction, and has spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list.
Celeste Ng grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio. She graduated from Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan). Ng’s fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, and many other publications, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other honors.
Danya Kukafka, the Q&A moderator for the evening, is the author of the nationally bestselling novels Notes on an Execution and Girl in Snow. Her books have been reviewed favorably in outlets like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, and have been translated into over a dozen languages worldwide. Notes on an Execution is currently in development as a television series. Kukafka works as a literary agent with Trellis Literary Management. Learn more.
About Seattle Arts & Lectures
Seattle Arts & Lectures (SAL) cultivates transformative experiences through story and language with readers and writers of all generations. This event is part of their SAL Presents series featuring authors, artists, and prominent thinkers discussing their latest works, as well as other exciting literary surprises. Learn more about SAL programs here.
Presented by Seattle Arts & Lectures.